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The Lent Tree {walking toward Jesus as a family}

*Be sure to look under the SEASONAL DEVOTIONAL link up top if you ever need to find this post again to print more ornaments OR if you want to incorporate other traditional devotional things that invite more of Christ into your home. Blessings sweet mommas! My gift to you!  


It is one of the most JOYOUS and SACRED times for our family–and we use the Lent tree to huddle in close…await with expectation…and fill our hearts with a new sense of hope as we look through the crowds in a busy culture for the risen King.

For those of you wanting to join me in creating a Lent tradition, I have created downloadable ornaments with scripture references so that you can walk your children through Lent year after year. We have 6 children in our home—different ages, different learning styles, different histories whether they came to our family biologically or adoption—and this has brought us together as a family year after year. Our children hear the word “Lent” and they know what this season brings for us as family…devotionals by the rocking chair upstairs, each child taking turns putting an ornament on the tree and that quiet Saturday—where there is no ornament as we wait and wonder after Good Friday. But Sunday comes—and if there is anything sweeter in our home than Christmas morning—it is this!

We have celebrated Lent in our family for over a decade now, and I’m so thankful we started when they were little. If your have teens, let me encourage you—this is just as sweet for the teen years too. You can dig into the stories deeper together—ask them to read the scriptures before gathering as a family—and let them take turns sharing how that scripture on the ornament shines Jesus, foreshadows what is to come and how we can all apply this in our own lives.

To begin…

For this activity you can simply use the predesigned paper ornaments at first (or always if you love them!) We actually started with real ornaments, and I spent several weeks gathering miniature treasures to represent each Bible story. This took a lot of energy and time—and something I would recommend you doing over the years if and when you need to add a little something different or change things up for your Lent devotional time. God might even speak you as you read a particular scripture and bring a different treasure to make into an ornament to mind.

I have a simple PDF file you can print off, laminate if you wish, add a little string to and you will quickly have ornaments for the Lent season.

EACH day you will have a scripture reading with each ornament. When your children are little–I encourage you to read the scripture before hand and then retell it so they can grasp it according to their age level. As they grow older, they will be able to sit through the entire chapter (or chapters) of reading, and each year you will be amazed at the nuggets the Holy Spirit gives them through each day’s reading.

This year I am putting my “ornaments” on a wooden board (I bought at Walmart in the craft section)–but in the past I’ve put string on them and hung them on branches in a vase for our Lent Tree. I’m just going for something that can be on the wall far from littles pulling it down this year;)

If you decide to use real ornaments and treasures you find one day instead of these printed ones, I have created tags for shipping labels to go on zip lock bags to help you organize, store and easily find the one you need each day through the seasons. All the work has been done FOR YOU as far as the labels go! 10 per sheet 2 in x 4 in. (I bought Office Max’s offbrand and it matches the download template of Avery 8163). But as long as you purchase the 2″x4″ with 10 on a sheet—this should work! Lent-Day 1-10 Labels, Lent-Day 11-20 Labels, Lent-Day 21-30 Labels, Lent-Day 31-40 Labels, HEisALIVE Day 41-42 Labels

Many years I just put sticks in a planter. I would have the kids pick up sticks and we would make a “tree” with them–and talk about how this Lent journey together would be about bringing dead things to life…giving new life and finding the One who gives us the abundant life…

I followed the instructions found in Carol Brazo’s book “No Ordinary Home: The Uncommon Art of Christ-Centered Homemaking” which by the way is a must have in any mommy’s library! Carol Brazo walks you through how to beautifully celebrate the final week of Lent leading up to Holy Week with your children—and this is SURE to be a memory they will forever hold dear in their hearts as they encounter the Savior this powerful week in an amazing way. My favorite is one of her explanations of how she celebrates Easter Sunday…

“Every Easter Sunday I am the first one up. Mark, like the disciples before him, hears those magical words, “He is risen” from the mouth of a woman. The little girls are awakened by their mama’s cries of joy, “He is risen!” and they in turn wake up their brother. Those first words belong to women. They are our gift and our heritage. And every year, as I hear women cry out their joy, a place deep inside me, inside the female part of me, is resurrected and brought to nerve-tingling life. He is risen! He is risen! Wake up and rejoice!”

And so it begins…

On the FIRST day of Lent–you will read the Bible story to your children and your littles will take turns putting the ornaments up on the tree each night. The first ornament: a teeny, tiny mustard seed. Your first scripture reading is short–Matthew 17:20. Short, but not simple. It is about faith. And faith we will need on this journey to the cross.

Matthew 17:20 says, “And He said to them, “Because of the littleness of your faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you.” Oh Lord, will you give my little ones faith for this journey with us. Oh that Your Holy Spirit would teach us and do a miracle in our hearts this Lent as we travel the Lent Tree journey together…

LentTreeOrnaments. Just print, cut out, laminate and string for your own tree!

IMPORTANT to read if you are doing the Lent Tree too! DO NOT do an ornament on Sundays during Lent! There are 40 ornaments—and there are 40 days of fasting between Ash Wednesday and Lent *IF* you don’t count Sundays! SO—you will do ornaments Monday through Saturday only following Biblical Lent tradition. “When observing fasting or abstinence during Lent, regard must be paid to the fact that Sundays are Feast Days, so there is no fast or abstinence. The days from Ash Wednesday to the day before Easter Sunday, excluding the Sundays, are forty, corresponding to the number of days Christ spent in the wilderness.” So…technically you fast for 6 days and then Sunday is a Feast day where you get to have what you fasted. Lent is a custom not a Biblical requirement–and traditionally you fast for 6 days and on the 7th day you celebrate the resurrection with a Feast day.


February family activities to draw you close…

“Valentine BLESSING Cookies”

(The blog on the pictures is no long active. If you lose this and ever need another copy—you can find on Just search “Valentine’s or Valentine’s Cookies”)

This is a craft to do with your little ones for the month of February to remind them WHO they are and WHOSE they are. The “cookies” are made out of felt, wire and glue. And guess what is inside each one? There are Bible verses proclaiming the Lord’s truth and LOVE, AND THEN there are statements of love and affirmation from us as parents. Beginning on February 1st, each day each child in our home will get to choose one from our “cookie jar” to start off their day leading up to Valentine’s! I make a different color “cookie” for each child so each gets a perfect mix of love from scripture and from us. If you have a lot of children like we do—your can print off the verses and encouragement sheets and use the same words and verses to encourage each child. You can make your own too if you prefer!

  1. You will need approximately 5 pieces of 8×11 felt per child (each piece will make 3 4-inch circles) Also–use the SOFT felt. I tried everything from the thicker felt to foam–and the softer felt folds into cookies best.
  2. Draw 4-inch circles on felt and cut out.

  1. Cut florist wire the diameter/length of your circle. Apply hot glue in a straight line down the center and carefully press wire in hot glue…

(You can also use pipe cleaners and Elmer’s glue if you don’t have florist wire or hot glue BUT florist wire and hot glue work BEST)

  1. Cut 4 x 1/2 inch strips of felt to hot glue OVER the wire…(this keeps the wire from showing when you fold your cookies as you will be able to slightly see the center)

  1. Print and fold up your “fortunes” or use mine. You can click on this link: valentines cookies which is in PDF format so you can print right off!

  1. Fold the circle in half (wire in center) and carefully bend the wire sideways to create a fortune cookie! If you have older children then you can probably get away with displaying them on your coffee table in a really fun way…

(AND you can use this year after year! How fun would this also be to do when you travel and you have to be away from your kiddos for them to get “love notes” from you each day while you are away!)

Unfortunately…that display would last 10 minutes in my house! So…until they are bigger—we’ll display our cookies appropriately in a cookie jar!

This activity I think is perfect to begin on February 1st to Valentine’s on the 14th! This year Lent begins on February 15th–so I’ll go ahead and post the links for the LENT TREE in a bit so you can print that off and have it ready to follow this if you would like too!


2018…a quick update!

My blogging days as a mom in her 30’s seem to be past–and this mom now in her 40’s is feeling pretty proud of herself for stealing a moment to just update this blog should all my pictures be lost–I still have this blog full of documented miracles and sweet stories from our past 14 years as a family together:) So 2018 has snuck up on us–and it’s a new year once again!

The holiday brought such sweetness with by far my favorite being our yearly worship night at the farm. This year we had about 250 or so join us–and it’s always such a sweet organic night of worship under the stars. If you live close by…oh please come join us and the little angels and shepherds one year! And if you have a little one they are most welcome to join in!!

The children had the sweetness making gingerbread houses, seeing Santa and baking lots throughout the holiday. We are just delighting in Janie Claire, and I feel so blessed to get to do this baby thing all over again!! We got to see family–we gained a new cousin this year (which Isaac LOVES having a boy cousin his age…they are new VBFFs!) and of course we saw Princess T (Tetiana) and her precious family!!!

Here are some of my favorite moments from our holiday…

We love our Santa who loves Jesus and tells the children the story of Christmas as they see him again. I’m sure there are some coocoobirds that would say we are confusing our littles…but ya’ll–I’m 40. I got this. My kids are amazing and we all love Santa and the fun of Christmas!!! This Santa is a rockstar who donates his service fee to foster care. JUST pretty amazing if you ask me! Janie Claire didn’t love Santa–but she was fine as long as big sister was holding her!

Richard and I jumped in a picture too…

Mommy’s little helper in the kitchen all December long!! Isn’t she just yummy?!

I couldn’t survive all the crazy fun without my 3 girls. We’ve been together long before any of us were married–and together in between all the crazy is so fun always. Love these 3. They also make having a Christmas birthday more fun too. I brought in 41 with them–and we got wild at Target shopping for stocking stuffers:)

December also brought new animals like Ferdinand the bull. Yes he is a bull. He is a Texas Long-horn. I might have lost my mind. The story he is couldn’t stay at his farm so we bought him. We might have to sell him back when he gets big enough to hurt things with his big horns–which means he would also be big enough for the farm to he came from to keep him again. He was being bullied by all the long-horns and his mom rejected him so he had no chance of survival and needed to be raised on a small farm for now. We adore him! He also came with 2 pigs–Mia Hamm and Kevin Bacon because they were already farm friends. We adore the pigs too!

Isaac and his cousin looking all spiffy for a holiday party…

Christmas Eve together…the candlelight service at church…

I just can’t even stand when I take in moments of my oldest and youngest together. Just the sweetest!!!

Before we open gifts on Christmas morning we give our first gifts to Jesus–sharing with each person who we see them becoming…characteristics of Jesus in them. This is SUCH a sweet time I never, ever want to forget…

The pigs…let’s not forget the pigs…

Tetiana with her mom Andra and the boys! She is about to graduate and will soon be working all kind of fun hours at a salon! So proud of her!!! I need her to give me some highlights:)

That’s just some of our crazy in a nutshell!! Merry Christmas and happy new year from our family to yours!!!


Another birthday. A holy privilege…

And just like that my 3rd baby is NINE. If we had stopped at 3–this would be our LAST year of single digits. Thankful I still have 3 more littles to soak in…but wow these first 3–it just has gone by so, so quickly.
But tonight. Be still my heart. I took in 3 little buddies playing putt-putt and giggles over dinner. Hilarious banter the whole ride home–so innocent and sweet sharing places they had been with their families on trips together. Then they raced in and opened gifts…ahh–another Nerf gun in the mix which means he is STILL little.

Birthdays make me sappy. Because I know this only gets faster. Tonight though–I take in this wrapping paper mess…the running of little feet…tiny shoes on the ground…and basketball sounds outside.
This mom gig is hard–and crazy–and tiring. But then come birthdays. Some times I think they are also for US…to step back, remember and thank God for another year…and letting us be their mommies.

Thank you for messes and the memories that I will cling to forever…and that they are happening right now in our home. Soon–before I know it–this noise, the banter and the connections will move beyond our home more often than in it…and we will get “filled in” rather than be in the middle of the memories. It’s his life–this sweet one who once needed me to eat and survive is growing up so fast right before our eyes. So tonight I’ll soak it in…even if it’s sitting at the bottom of the steps wiping away a tear of thanksgiving–that I get to do this…mess and crazy sports carpool and tired and all. THIS is a holy privilege. So here’s to another year.

Happy birthday dearest Frank. You are going to rock nine my sweet son…the last single digit is going to be the best yet. We love you!


A glimpse of who you are…

Last night I saw a glimpse of WHO she is. Yes–dressed in that little Woodstock costume–I saw a story I will retell her for the REST of her life. And it goes like this…
You were a little yellow bird–Woodstock…Snoopy’s little friend. Your big brother was Snoopy and Daddy was the best Charlie Brown. We were at Trunk-or-Treat at church…and a few missed the “no scary costumes” memo…but I’m pretty sure those were the people who never saw it…because they are sweet community people we are here to serve.
This picture isn’t from that moment because I was watching you too close. I knew you were scared. You saw that scary mask from a very scary movie–you dropped candy in his bag. You looked up again. Your little arms started TREMBLING with fear. You looked back at me for help–I don’t think you could move. Then you stiffly walked the best you could back to me still shaking.
I wanted to pick you up. But I waited not wanting to build more fear in your sweet little soul. Instead of reaching for me, you reached to get more candy. You turned around–and bee-lined right back to him. And fear and grace and love…and a BRAVE trembling baby girl met her fear in the face…and you gave him more candy…more love–more “I will be your friend”.

This. THIS is who you are. Who shall you fear? So go out there sweet girl…on the first day of preschool, kindergarten, your first team tryout…college…that interview. You go face your fears in the face–and shower them with more of WHO you are and WHOSE you are. Fearless. Brave. His. Because most of what we fear is really just a mask–it’s not real…it just needs more of exactly what you have🙌🏻👊🏼

–love. Mom.

The Lord gives us stories daily…to show us who are children are. Let us write them down. So that when hard days come–we can help them remember.